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Author Archives: Karen R. Long

Eugene Gloria Mixes Cultural Influences With New Poetry Collection, “Sightseer In This Killing City”

Readers of Eugene Gloria’s poems have a cultivated patience, a relationship with time. It has been seven years since the publication of his last book, “My Favorite Warlord,” winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. In 2013, Henry Louis Gates Jr. praised Gloria’s poetry by remarking on his own keen interest in genealogy. The Anisfield-Wolf jury chair located a kinship in the poet’s exploration of our origins “as a key to the present [that] is compelling, addictive, and – in the best circumstances – generative. It is this last quality that is evident on every page.” Gloria, 62, is deeply attuned to heritage and displacement. Arrivals and departures cycle through all four of his considered, beautiful and nimble poetry collections. “My Favorite Warlord” opens... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf Fellow Leila Chatti Debuts New Poem “The Rules”

“The Rules,” a new poem by Anisfield-Wolf Fellow Leila Chatti, graced the inboxes of more than 350,000 subscribers, a landmark accomplishment for a rising poet. The American Academy of Poets has offered a daily dose of poetry, delivered digitally, since 2006. Chatti reads “The Rules” in her mellifluous, thoughtfully inflected voice in the audio clip. She states that she “wanted to write about the walk I took . . . in Madison, Wisconsin, and the brief, vital moment of joy that indicated my year-long depression might finally lift.” To do so, Chatti knew she would need to break the conventions of her craft, the rules. Fortunately, the poet is already adept at upending expectations. “This poem has no children; it is trying/to be taken seriously,” she writes in “The... Read More →

The Enduring Legacy Of Gordon Parks Featured At Cleveland Museum Of Art

Gordon Parks Self-Portrait Photographer, filmmaker, poet and novelist Gordon Parks died in 2006 at the age of 93. But the 1998 winner of an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for lifetime achievement continues to exert a centrifugal force on American culture, well into the 21st century. Kendrick Lamar sampled Parks’ photographs for his music video “Element.” And a mesmerizing art exhibit, concentrating on Parks’ first decade of visual work, is now open to all at the Cleveland Museum of Art through June 30. There is no admissions charge. The National Gallery of Art curated “Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950.” It features many iconic images, perhaps none more arresting than Ella Watson in 1942 in a polka-dot dress, a charwoman who cleaned government buildings in... Read More →

Four Cleveland Students Honored For Their Social Justice Work

From left to right, Karson Baldwin, Sandhya Gupta, Elizabeth Metz, Jalen Brown and Brooke Peppard, a board member of the Princeton Prize on Race Relations. Photo Credit: Jeff Ivey Sophomore Elizabeth Metz was dismayed by students at Beachwood High School arguing whether slavery or the Holocaust was worse. Administrators say her student-led forums have improved campus race relations more than faculty and staff have been able to do. Senior Jalen Brown saw the toxic mix of homophobia and racism in the hallways of the Cleveland School of Science and Medicine. He formed a student cadre called “Specific and General Acceptance” to explore this intersection. One of their goals: fewer suicides. Senior Kye Harrell led a silent sit-in at Shaker Heights High School, gathering more than... Read More →

Anisfield-Wolf -Winning Authors Nab Two Pulitzer Prizes

David W. Blight and Brent Staples -- two Anisfield-Wolf Book Award recipients – discovered this week that each had won a Pulitzer Prize.  Blight’s monumental biography, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” received the Pulitzer for history. And Staples, an editorial writer for the New York Times, has won for a series of newspaper opinion pieces. Both men will be awarded $15,000. Two more Anisfield-Wolf winners were named as Pulitzer finalists: novelist Tommy Orange, this year's fiction winner for his debut, "There There" and historian Jill Lepore, who won an Anisfield-Wolf prize in 2006, a finalist in criticism for her writing in the New Yorker. Three historians selected the Douglass biography: Annette Gordon-Reed, Tiya Miles and Marcus Rediker. Gordon-Reed, who... Read More →

Forthcoming Poetry Collection “Deluge” A Stunning Debut For Leila Chatti

Leila Chatti worked six years to create Deluge, 52 poems that the esteemed Copper Canyon Press will publish next year as her first book. Michael Wiegers, editor of the press that publishes Jericho Brown, C.D. Wright and W.S. Merwin, called Chatti in March to give her the news. “I’ve been happy-crying for the past hour driving to the prison I teach at – I’m so very, very excited to say my first book, DELUGE, is going to be published with @CopperCanyonPrs,” Chatti tweeted. “This feels like the best dream. I am so wildly grateful. Praise to God in all things.” Faith is a strand that weaves through her first two chapbooks and rises in Deluge. Chatti, 28, is the daughter of a Muslim father and a Catholic mother. When her father heard that the Copper Canyon editor -- whom his... Read More →

Zadie Smith’s “Feel Free” Honored At National Book Critics Circle Awards

Zadie Smith, best known for her piercing comic novels, has won a National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism for her essays collected in Feel Free. She extended appreciation to her husband first, with a jaunty, “Thank you so much to Nick Laird, for sharing so much with me, willingly and unwillingly, including the title of his poetry book Feel Free, which I would also like to apologize to for stealing.” The book is a lively, capacious and learned romp through five sections that explore freedom of language and thought: “In the World,” “In the Audience,” “In the Gallery,” “On the Bookshelf and “Feel Free.” Smith, a 43-year-old Londoner, won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2006 for On Beauty, a witty story of an interracial family living in an American... Read More →

Poet Jericho Brown To Announce 2019 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award Winners In April

Photo Credit: Brian Cornelius Jericho Brown will announce the new class of Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners in Cleveland April 4. The charismatic and much-lauded poet, whose “The New Testament” won an Anisfield-Wolf prize four years ago, will also read from his just-publishing work “The Tradition.” The public is welcome to join him Thursday April 4 at 7 p.m. in the South Euclid/ Lyndhurst branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library.  Brown, 42, will cap the night with news of the 84th class of writers to win this year’s prize, honoring the 2018 books that best excel in confronting racism and exploring human diversity. Previous winners include Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Gunnar Myrdal, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, Marilyn Chin, Sandra Cisneros, Margot... Read More →

Claudia Rankine On Dismantling Racism And Prepping Cleveland’s Youth For Their Future

Credit: Katie McCullough Poet Claudia Rankine, born 56 years ago in Jamaica, returned to the city of her first college teaching post to kick off a community read of her slender, seminal book, Citizen: An American Lyric. “In a sense, I am home,” she told a Cleveland audience. “My husband grew up here. My time here was very important. I met my husband at Mac's Backs-Books on Coventry and I had my very first teaching job here.” The crowd, gathered in the Parma-Snow auditorium of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, cheered this bibliophilic beginning to romance. Rankine, a Yale University professor and chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, saw her first book, Nothing in Nature is Private, published in 1994 by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. Filmmaker... Read More →

Author Claudia Rankine Brings “Citizen” To Cleveland January 23

Claudia Rankine and her “slender, musical book that arrives like a thunderclap” are coming to Cleveland, the first major literary event of the year. Thanks to the Big Read of the National Endowment for the Arts and the moxie of the staff at Cleveland’s Center for Arts-Inspired Learning, residents of Cuyahoga County will have eight weeks to soak up the brilliance of Citizen: An American Lyric. The book, which reached the New York Times bestseller list in 2014, is “a well-timed amalgam of poetry, essays and Serena Williams analysis,” according to Boris Kachka in Vulture. It is poised to launch a thousand local conversations. “Citizen,” as critic Parul Sehgal writes, “is an anatomy of American racism in the new millennium.” Megan Thompson, special projects manager for... Read More →
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